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Other Cetaceans

Regulations and Guidelines for Other Cetaceans

The Salish Sea is home to many different cetaceans including humpback whales, minke whales, porpoises and more. These marine mammals are protected by regulations in Canada and the U.S. which prohibit harassment and disturbance. Many species are threatened or endangered and subject to additional protections under the Endangered Species Act (U.S.) and the Species at Risk Act (Canada).

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United States Marine Mammal Regulations

Marine mammals including cetaceans are protected in US waters under the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), with additional protection provided to endangered and threatened species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).

These regulations prohibit take, which is defined as harassing, hunting, capturing, killing, or attempting to harass, hunt, capture or kill any marine mammal.

In order to prevent taking an unlisted cetacean, you must

  • Maintain 100 yards minimum distance from whales including dolphins and porpoises.
  • Maintain 200 yards minimum distance if the whale is resting or with a calf, or if the whale is a Bigg’s Transient killer whale.
  • Do not approach a marine mammal to feed it, swim/interact with it, move it or entice it to move from its immediate vicinity, separate it from members of its group, or trap it between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels.
MERS, Marine Mammal License MML-42
MERS, Marine Mammal License MML-42
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Canadian Marine Mammal Regulations

The Canadian Marine Mammal Regulations were amended in 2018 and require the following to avoid disturbance to marine mammals. Threatened and endangered species are additionally protected under the Species At Risk Act (SARA).

  • Maintain a minimum approach distance of 200 metres to orcas in Pacific Canadian waters, and to any whales, dolphins or porpoises that are in resting position or accompanied by calves.*
  • Maintain a minimum approach distance of 100 metres to all other whales, dolphins and porpoises.
  • Do not approach a marine mammal to feed it, swim/interact with it, move it or entice it to move from its immediate vicinity, separate it from members of its group, or trap it between a vessel and the shore or between a vessel and one or more other vessels.

Under the Interim Order for the Protection of Killer Whales (Orcinua orca) in the Waters of Southern British Columbia, 2020, specific approach distances are required for killer whales in certain areas: minimum approach distance of 400 metres from all killer whales in all southern BC waters between the Campbell river and just north of Ucluelet. The Marine Mammal Regulations also require reporting of any accidental contact between marine mammals and a vehicle or fishing gear to DFO (1-800-465-4336 or DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo-gc.ca). To learn more about the Marine Mammal Regulations visit: http://www.gazette.gc.ca/rp-pr/p2/2018/2018-07-11/html/sor-dors126-eng.html

The Marine Education & Research Society (MERS) of Canada has created a campaign to provide further information about how to avoid collisions with marine mammals called “See A Blow? Go Slow!” This reminds boaters to slow down whenever you see a blow, or whale spout, and stay extra vigilant to see what direction the animals are traveling and how to best position their vessel to maintain a safe distance from the whales and still enjoy the view.

To find out more, visit https://mersociety.org/seeablowgoslow.

MERS, Marine Mammal License MML-42
MERS, Marine Mammal License MML-42

 

 

 

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